Bournemouth showed precisely why Mick McCarthy, like most managers in the division, rates them the pick of the fiercely competitive Championship, as they avoided a rare defeat when manager Eddie Howe sent on his newest recruit Kenwyne Jones with just 11 minutes remaining.
With his first touch of the ball, the Cardiff loanee applied a finely angled header to Matt Ritchie’s corner, giving the scoreline a more realistic complexion. The point was not enough to restore Bournemouth to the summit of the table but it keeps them motoring along, looking forward to by far the easiest run-in of any of the promotion contenders.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said: “It was an un-Bournemouth goal that we scored from but Kenwyne can give us that. He’s obviously a presence but he’s more than that. He’s got two good feet and he could be valuable.
“It doesn’t look like any team is going to forge ahead now. It’s all down to who can hold their nerve and deal with the pressure best.”
Surprisingly, his team showed they couldn’t deal with a piece of routine defending as they fell behind. As a cross floated in from the left, Daryl Murphy was granted generous time and space in which to bring it under control and then play a neat pass towards Freddie Sears, who will not score many easier goals in his Ipswich career.
But instead of building on that early breakthrough Ipswich were unable to take command as the visitors demonstrated all their quality on the ball allied to clever movement. In quick succession Andrew Surman, Harry Arter and Brett Pitman had chances they couldn’t take.
The best opportunity for the away side fell to the impressive Ryan Fraser after Ritchie had found him with a fine sweeping pass. Now was the time for Bartosz Bialkowski to come to the party as he dived to the left to keep the ball out.
Then, when Ritchie chanced his arm from distance, he went to the right to preserve the lead.
Ipswich improved after the break. How badly they needed the win that would have hoisted them to within three points of last night’s opponents. It was looking increasingly likely before Jones emerged to save the day and extend Bournemouth’s unbeaten run to seven games. Even then it required another Bialkowski stop to keep it at 1-1 after Yann Kermorgant had headed goal-wards following another Ritchie corner.
McCarthy said: “I can’t say that 1-1 is not a fair result but of course to concede at that stage of the game is disappointing. And it’s doubly disappointing when you think what the win might have done for us.
“But if we get into the play-offs we might be looking back on this point and saying how vital it was for us.”
Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers, Smith, Berra, Fryers; Varney (Clarke, 90), Bishop (Chaplow, 57), Skuse, Tabb; Murphy, Sears (Wood, 79). Substitutes not used Gerken, McGoldrick, Anderson, Williams
Bournemouth (4-2-3-1): Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook (A Smith, 79), Daniels; Arter, Surman; Ritchie, Pitman (Kermorgant, 65), Fraser (Jones, 79); Wilson. Substitutes not used Camp, Gosling, Macdonald, Ward.
Referee R Madley (W Yorks).